The witching hour season is upon us!
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina finally arrived and introduced us to our new titular witch (Kiernan Shipka) — a half-witch and half-mortal, living in Greendale with her aunts Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Zelda (Miranda Otto) and cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo), who must decide whether she’ll leave her mortal life behind — most notably her boyfriend Harvey (Ross Lynch) and friends Roz (Jaz Sinclair) and Susie (Lachlan Watson) — and fully commit to being a witch.
From the title alone it’s clear that this Sabrina is a far cry from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but how chilling is it exactly? So funny you should ask, dear witches and warlocks, because here we have a ranking of the episodes — from least to most chilling. And mind you, we’re not talking the “look how cute Sabrina and Harvey are together” kind of chills (but while on the subject, aren’t they so cute together?!?!).
So, to those with a low horror tolerance, beware of what’s to follow… and while we’re at it, beware of spoilers too…
EPISODE 2: (RELATIVELY) NOT *THAT* CHILLING
The Witch Sitch: Father Blackwood (a High Priest of the Church of the Night) advises a questioning Sabrina to go through with her dark baptism, which she apparently doesn’t actually have a say in for unknown reasons — as she overhears Zelda and Hilda discussing. After she and the Weird Sisters (a trio of mean girl witches named Prudence, Agatha, and Dorcas) deal with some jocks who’d been harassing Susie — Sabrina moves forward with her dark baptism, but runs away just as she’s about to sign her name in the Dark Lord’s book when Father Blackwood suggests, in so many words, that she won’t have free will. She narrowly escapes the angry mob that follows her, but it’s clear she’s only safe for the time being. Namely, she’s later called into Principal Hawthorne’s office at school, and the Dark Lord possesses his body, telling Sabrina she can’t beat him because she’s part mortal.
The Chill Factor: Sabrina encountering the Devil itself certainly takes the cake, especially because Principal Hawthorne foams at the mouth, convulses, and takes on a demonic voice while being possessed. Coming in close second? After Susie gets suspended for starting a fight with a group of bully-jocks, Sabrina turns to the Weird Sisters to help her teach them a lesson and leave Susie in peace, basically to set her mind at ease if she leaves to pursue her life as a witch.
Teach a lesson they certainly do, by casting a spell that causes the boys to think they’re making out with the four ladies, when in actuality, they’re making out with each other; Sabrina documents the moment and threatens to release the evidence if they mess with any of the girls at school. That’s all in good fun, but the sisters take things a step TOO far when they hit the lights and haunt the guys with skeletal faces (YIKES). The episode certainly has a number of other spine tingling moments from learning that there might be a witch hunter in Greendale’s midst to the reveal of the ghastly Beast itself, but relatively speaking, even a scaredy cat could get through this episode — without watching through their fingers.
EPISODE 3: CHILLING, BUT STILL REVVING UP
The Witch Sitch: Sabrina gets an infernal summons charging her with breach of promise for not going through with her dark baptism, and causing Hilda and Zelda to be stripped of their powers. Ambrose suggests Sabrina seek out Daniel Webster — a mortal who’s successfully practiced witch law — to defend her and he (eventually) agrees, showing up at the last minute to prove her innocence. In the roller coaster of a trial, we learn Sabrina’s warlock father Edward signed her name in the Book of the Beast, with Zelda standing by, when she was just a baby as part of a deal that allowed him to marry his mortal wife Diana. But, Sabrina’s mother, with Hilda at her side, baptized Sabrina in the Holy Mother Church of Greendale, just before the book signing. In effect, Sabrina successfully evades punishment and retains her mortal life on the condition that she goes to Academy and attends weekly Black Mass. Full powers are restored to the Spellman family, too; though, Hilda is excommunicated from the Church of the Night for aiding Diana in the baptism.
The Chill Factor: Sure, Sabrina technically won in the end, but the Devil, Father Blackwood, and co. aren’t to be trusted, as we see when Father Blackwood and Miss Wardwell get together after the trial. He boasts about his victory, but she maintains that “real corruption” is a subtle blade and that she plans to go after Sabrina’s mortal friends a little bit at a time. And the games and tricks don’t end there. Earlier in the episode, we see Miss Wardwell shapeshift into Webster’s dead daughter, in a gruesome and bloody state, telling him not to waste his time on Sabrina’s case.
The “daughter” later reveals herself to Sabrina in an unsettling vision and, one thing leads to another, but we learn that she was killed by one of Webster’s clients, whom he helped set free as part of the Devil’s trick to make him the best lawyer, who only gets cases of the damned. (So yeah, that’s what happens when you make a deal with the Devil.) Oh, and then there’s the reveal, via a very claustrophobia-inducing flashback, that Harvey spotted the Beast while playing hide and seek in a mine as a child, and was trapped down there for five hours; and now, Harvey’s abusive father is forcing him to work down there — and that certainly doesn’t end well…
EPISODE 9: PRETTY CHILLING
The Witch Sitch: Harvey’s brother, Tommy, returns when Sabrina resurrects him from the dead after a mine collapse, but it’s clear that he’s not himself; and neither is Agatha, whom Sabrina sacrificed (but brought back to life using her aunts’ special soil) as part of the resurrection ritual. Hilda (and later, Zelda) catches wind of what’s transpired, and reveals that the Grim Reaper won’t stop until a body returns to it to restore the balance. Still, Sabrina thinks she can fix things by crossing into mortal limbo and retrieving Tommy’s soul — and she does just that, with “help” from Miss Wardwell, but the Soul Eater gets him before they’re able to make it out, leaving her with the single option of telling Harvey who she is and what actually happened to his brother. Needless to say, he doesn’t take it well, and breaks up with Sabrina and kills “Tommy.”
The Chill Factor: For one thing, there’s Tommy and Agatha’s conditions to consider, thanks to Sabrina messing with what might very well be the most dangerous form of magic. Tommy is completely uncommunicative and won’t sleep or eat, and the latter has to do with the fact that he’d snacked on the other fallen miners (meaning, it’s only a matter of time before he gets hungry for human flesh again). Agatha, meanwhile, coughs up dirt and turns greener and greener by the day, looking like the walking dead. Then there’s mortal limbo — a woods-like area covered in fog, with ghostly figures walking around — to be freaked out about, especially because if one thing goes wrong, Sabrina could be trapped there F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Thankfully that doesn’t happen, but watching her walk through the mystical spot with the Soul Eater looming nearby is pretty unsettling. Still, this episode is really about the consequences of her magic and the end of her relationship with Harvey, and while we should all firmly believe that love is dead, it’s not exactly totally terrifying.
EPISODE 1: A CHILLING START
The Witch Sitch: We meet our new Sabrina in the days leading up to her 16th birthday and dark baptism. Throughout the series opener, she grapples with that choice, asking whether her desire keep her powers should come at the cost of losing her boyfriend, friends, and mortal life at large. Along the way, she encounters a series of magical forces, good and bad, trying to influence her choice, which she’s about to make by episode’s end after consulting a Malum Malus (aka an apple that gives knowledge) when Father Blackwood first enters the picture, trying to persuade her to commit to the Dark Lord.
The Chill Factor: As if Father Blackwood’s long and pointed fingernails, beady and lifeless eyes, and overall manipulative demeanor aren’t enough to give you the creeps, there are a whole slew of magical and mischievous forces at work as Sabrina tries to choose the path of light or night. For starters, Sabrina’s teacher Miss Wardwell encounters a distressed girl in the middle of the road late at night who, as it turns out, is actually a plotting witch who uses her magic to stab Wardwell in the neck with scissors (OUCH) and assume her body to stay closer to Sabrina and convince her to sign her name in the Dark Lord’s book; on top of that, Wardwell 2.0 brings a scarecrow to life to stop Sabrina from picking the Malum Malus — which, BTW, showed Sabrina a red-colored vision of lifeless witches hanging from a tree, and a ram-like monster?!?! (UM, NO THANK YOU.)
Not only that, but there’s a horrifying scene that makes Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets look tame in which Sabrina and Ambrose cast a spell, causing hundreds of spiders to attack the arachnophobic Principal Hawthorne so he’ll take time off school, allowing Sabrina to create a women’s support group. (Which, BTW, the antagonism against women at Baxter High is terrifying in its own way…) All in all, it’s a pretty, ahem, chilling start for everyone’s favorite teen witch. But again, it’s just the start, and there are so many more chills and thrills ahead.
EPISODE 4: FULLY CHILLING, AND *NOW* WE’RE TALKING
The Witch Sitch: Sabrina makes her way to the Academy, which she’ll attend as a part-time student with the goal of learning how to defeat the Dark Lord. It doesn’t take long for the Weird Sisters haze her as part of a tradition known as a Harrowing. Back at home, Harvey learns that Susie’s uncle — who’s physically and mentally unwell — also saw something beastly in the mines, and he attacks Harvey when he tries to ask about it. And speaking of attacks… Sabrina manages to unlock a puzzle created by her father, the Acheron Configuration. Father Blackwood gave her the puzzle as a test, and now that she’s unlocked it, she’s supposed to be allowed to take configuration class. But in doing so, she unleashes a vengeful demon.
The Chill Factor: The whole Harrowing process is, well, harrowing. First, the Weird Sisters lock Sabrina in a dark space to be haunted by the ghosts of deceased witches; then, they force her to stand and face a tree all night, never to look back despite hearing the anguished voices of Harvey, her mother, and father begging her to turn around. A young boy, Quentin, who’d been taking Sabrina around school, comes to her in the morning to relieve her of her task, and we learn he was harrowed to death — and that there are a number of other ghost children like him.
Sabrina enlists the help of Hilda and Zelda, who form a revenge plot with the children, and that comes into play when the Weird Sisters call on Sabrina for night three of her Harrowing, in which they attempt to hang her to death, but fail when the ghost children cast a spell that keeps her grounded and chokes the sisters, but not lethally, instead. Oh, and turns out Father Blackwood orchestrated the whole thing, saying to Prudence that he got Sabrina to the Academy as promised, but that doesn’t mean he won’t make her suffer while in attendance. Creepy ghost kids? NOPE. Constant psychologically and physically disturbing torture by your peers, like attempted death by hanging? DOUBLE NOPE. The patriarchy out to get you? NOPE, NOPE, and NOPE, but hey, combined it certainly fits the chilling bill.
EPISODE 8: SUPER CHILLING AND DARK AND TWISTED, OH MY!
The Witch Sitch: Near the end, things certainly escalate — like, Harvey almost died after a mine collapse conjured up by Agatha and Dorcas kind of escalate. Sabrina’s beau escapes, thanks to a protective spell she put on him, but his brother Tommy is among those who don’t make it out alive. Of course, Harvey doesn’t know if Tommy is, in fact, dead; Sabrina only does because Ambrose astral projected (projected himself, almost like a hologram) his way into the mines to confirm it, so she struggles with not being able to tell Harvey or use her magic to help him. That is, until she decides to get into some seriously dark magic — yes, dear witches and warlocks, we’re talking necromancy and a, gulp, ritual sacrifice to bring his life back.
The Chill Factor: This episode is certainly horrific in a real-life kind of way, given that mining accidents do and have happened, but Sabrina’s course correction via necromancy is what’s truly alarming. Everyone keeps warning her that necromancy is not to be messed with, that you don’t want to mess with the natural order of things, AND THEY’RE RIGHT. HASN’T SHE SEEN LIFE-SIZE? DOES THAT NOT EXIST IN THIS UNIVERSE?! THAT ENDS VERY DIFFERENTLY, BUT YOU GET THE IDEA. And let’s not forget, the sacrificial ritual to get Tommy’s life back is abhorrent. Namely, in order to carry out the spell, Sabrina, with the help of Prudence, has to take a life to get Tommy’s life back — it’s an eye for an eye sort of thing. So she selects Agatha, who spearheaded the attack at the mine, and slits her throat in an especially gory moment.
Just when you think Sabrina’s gone BAD, we learn that she’s trying to outsmart the dark magic, that she put Agatha in her home’s special soil that brings people back to life. Even so, watching our magical heroine seemingly turn against her values (even if for a brief moment) and slit her peer’s throat is disturbing, to say the least — as is the technically up and running but not really alive Tommy’s ominous knocking at the Kinkle house after coming back to life.
EPISODE 6: SO CHILLING, EVEN A DEMON WOULD BE SCARED
The Witch Sitch: When prompted, Miss Wardwell “comes clean” and tells Sabrina she’s a witch who was excommunicated from her coven for being in love with and engaged to a mortal, and that Sabrina’s dad essentially took her in — and that she’s looking out for Sabrina now on behalf of Edward, but Sabrina doesn’t trust her. That is, until Wardwell (along with Hilda and a reluctant Zelda) helps Sabrina exorcise a demon, Apophis (aka the Devouring Worm), out of Susie’s uncle, Jesse — and they’re successful, but Jesse still dies when his heart gives out. As it turns out, Jesse’s death isn’t Apophis’ doing. Rather, just as Sabrina seems to be warming up to Wardwell, we see a flashback of Wardwell killing Jesse, saying the Dark Lord wanted Sabrina to perform an exorcism on a mortal as part of the prophecy.
The Chill Factor: Not that any of us really want to encounter any sort of demon, but Apophis is especially horrifying and disgusting. Harvey, Roz, and Susie all have visions of him — with his bloodshot eyes, rotting face, and surrounding magots — so Sabrina astral projects, thinking the demon can’t hurt her in that form, into Jesse’s room to investigate. But surprise surprise, she isn’t safe and only narrowly escapes Apophis’ attempted possession, but not before it vomits everywhere (think Pitch Perfect, but SCARY). When it comes time for the exorcism — which, BTW, witches aren’t supposed to perform — it gets real Exorcist. As in, Jesse starts hovering above the bed, growling and groaning and trying to attack the women. And, IMHO, it’s enough to send chills through even Regan MacNeil.
EPISODE 5: REALLY CHILLING, WE’RE NEVER SLEEPING AGAIN
The Witch Sitch: After Sabrina unintentionally releases a sleep demon, Batibat, from its Acheron Configuration prison, the ghastly creature seeks revenge on the Spellmans. The family puts an enchantment on the house that traps the demon inside and Zelda tries to capture it but to no avail — the Batibat manages to put everyone to sleep, torturing them in their nightmares with the aim of getting them to break the enchantment and escape. Miss Wardwell catches Batibat in the act and eventually wakes Sabrina up. And when Sabrina does, she uses lucid dreaming to enter her family’s nightmares to figure out how to defeat Batibat. The end result? She uses Hilda’s familiars, spiders, to capture Batibat in a web.
The Chill Factor: Literally everything about this episode is terrifying. The idea of a demon being able to control your nightmares to get what it wants and keep you asleep until it does is enough to keep anyone up at night (Freddy Krueger much?), but add in the fact that the nightmares themselves are H-O-R-R-I-F-I-C and you’ll never fall asleep ever again. In Sabrina’s nightmare, Harvey and their mortal friends put her in a torture device that stabs her and keeps her locked up; Ambrose, meanwhile, thinks he’s free from his house arrest, but the demon stabs him as he’s walking out the door, and then the cycle repeats itself; Hilda ends up sewn at the hip to her cruel sister; as for that cruel sister, Zelda kills Hilda in a fit of rage over the Dark Lord taking a liking to her, and this time, Hilda doesn’t rise from her grave of magical soil. Even worse, you don’t know you’re in a nightmare, you think it’s all real!!! Sure, things work out okay for the Spellmans in the end, but you better believe I’m stocking up on 5-hour Energies and steering clear of any magical puzzles just in case.
EPISODE 7: THE MOST CHILLING, WE’RE ALL VEGETARIANS NOW
The Witch Sitch: This tasty lil’ episode centers on a tradition known as the Feast of Feasts, a time to honor a witch, Freya, who sacrificed herself to save an early version of the Church of Night when they were chased out of Greendale and about to starve to death; 14 families participate in the tradition and a representative is chosen from each, and there’s a lottery to see who among them will be selected as Queen and, well, be eaten by the coven. Prudence is selected and considers it a huge honor, but sensible Sabrina finds it barbaric (#SAME). Sabrina is selected as Prudence’s handmaiden, and therefore has to do her bidding in the days leading up to the Feast, and she uses that time to try and convince her not to go through with it.
Ultimately, she does convince her when she correctly surmises that Lady Blackwood, Father Blackwood’s pregnant wife, cast a spell to ensure Prudence was selected because Prudence, it turns out, is Father Blackwood’s secret daughter and therefore has a claim to follow in his High Priest footsteps, and she didn’t want her getting in the way of her twins. BUT, another witch sacrifices herself when the High Priest is about to announce that the Feast is canceled — and they eat her. As if that isn’t horrible enough, we learn that Harvey’s ancestors were witch hunters, and the Weird Sisters are convinced the family still is, so Dorcas and Agatha attempt to kill Harvey and Tommy in the mines in a cliffhanger ending.
The Chill Factor: CANNIBALISM, ENOUGH SAID. It’s like, you know that feeling when you’re hungry, but you decide to watch an episode of TV first, and then it turns out to be really hard to stomach, to the point where you can’t even think about eating the meat pie you have on hand for lunch? BECAUSE I DO. Watching the Church of Night coven tear that poor witch apart — I’m gagging even writing this now and because I care about you, readers, I’ll spare you the graphic details, but just know it’s VIOLENT and BLOODY — was absolutely and completely disgusting. It’s disturbing, the imagery and the fact that Prudence almost died for nothing, and now — still gagging — I’m legitimately considering giving up meat.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina delivers on the chills, and if that’s your thing, check out our binge recap, which unpacks even more of the show (yes, there’s more!), and other ~bewitching~ content:
- ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ cast reunites to give advice to Netflix cast
- ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ boss has a few ideas for a ‘Riverdale’ crossover